The first Airbus A330
I was quite surprised to receive an email notification from Simple Flying advising that the world's first Airbus A330 (MSN012) has been retired more than 27 years after its first flight as the A330 prototype in 1992.
Original registration, F-WWKA, with Airbus Industrie was built back in 1992 as a prototype and used for certification flights before being delivered to Cathay Pacific in October of 1996.
B-HLJ served its entire almost 24 years of passenger service with Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon (aka Dragonair). It was withdrawn from service on July 6 and stored at Taipei July 17.
Its fate is now uncertain but it would be appropriate for this landmark aircraft to be preserved somewhere.
Additional info by Ken Pickford:
By the time that aircraft was refurbished and delivered to Cathay Pacific in October 1996, several dozen A330's were in service with other airlines. The first A330 operator in January 1994 was French domestic carrier Air Inter (which merged with Air France in 1997). Other early A330 operators included Thai Airways, Aer Lingus and Malaysia Airlines.
The A330-300 was somewhat unusual in that the stretched -300 model came first, several years before the shorter but longer range A330-200 which went into service in April 1998, four years after the -300. Interestingly, the first operator of the A330-200 was Canadian charter (and briefly scheduled) carrier Canada 3000 which ceased operations in November 2001.